Do you know this desire?

Typically I get on the train some time before 7.30am each morning and find myself a seat for the ride into town. Like everyone with winter come I’m swaddled in warm winter clothing and often a scarf. I have a set of headphones that shut out the world and through which I listen to music, and more often to audiobooks.

The trip into town is a quiet time. I just sit there. I watching the passing stations as we tick them off and cast an eye over the commuters boarding the train. Come Richmond, which is where I get off, the train is generally pretty full.

This morning I sat by the window. At Brighton a woman got on and sat on the seat diagonally opposite me. She was in her mid-20’s with long blonde air and fantastically leggy. She wasn’t beautiful, but was certainly alluring. She sat there and read through what appeared a document from work.

I checked her out and then looked back out the window. I checked her out again. As is almost always the case my mind set to racing.

I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone, or if to the same degree, but for me there’s a feeling of unexpected, but very welcome delight whenever I encounter an alluring woman. I’m infused with a sense of wellbeing, and almost always a feeling of positive vibrancy. I’m reminded what a marvellous place this world can be, and feel the urge to a piece of it besides. This sense, which is aesthetic, sensual and sexual, is life affirming.

I’m happy for the most part to feel this passively. It was not the occasion and to be honest I had not the desire to try more, and smarts enough to understand what is beyond my reach. To feel the warmth of this possibility is to believe in higher things. There have been occasions when I have acted though, and they are great memories – sometimes you just have to take that punt.

I wonder if what I feel is normal, or if it is commonly felt as vibrantly as I do, or if as urgently?

There was nothing special about the woman today. I felt no special connection to her. I was grateful for her existence, and admired her in much the same way as I admired those glorious thoroughbreds a few weeks back.

Reality always wins

Okay, so I’m one episode away from finishing 13 Reasons Why. It’s been an interesting program for all the reasons I’ve said before, but I have to say these kids experienced an unusually melodramatic stage of life – a suicide, a traffic accident death, and 2 rapes, amid all the other bits and bobs is a tad over the top. And even accounting for teenage angst and confusion many of the pivotal decisions the show revolves around would be pretty unlikely in real life I reckon.

Still, it’s been pretty gripping, and you just want to get to the end to see how it unfolds. I have to say I find Clay pretty heroic. He really is a good kid, sensitive and gentle, but possessed of a fierce determination. There are times maybe he should have been more circumspect, or reflected more, or just been more patient, but what it boils down to is that he can’t let things go either.

You feel for him. If it was real you would know that this kid would be haunted his lifelong by what might have been. Revealed to him were the possibilities that he so yearned for while Hannah was yet alive, but too late now to make any difference now that she is not. Compounding that is the knowledge that things might so easily have been different, including if he had acted differently or made different choices. The consequences played out, and in hindsight it’s plain to see.

Knowing that his path towards redemption – and justice – is to do for Hannah in death what was denied to her in life. He is a kid with a mighty heart.

As I watch I find there are more and more things that part way from my experience of that age, but a lot of that is dramatic licence. My schooldays were never as dramatic as that, and certainly – to my knowledge – there were no conspiracies.

There are other moments that go straight to the heart of me though. Watching Clay connect with Hannah intimately for the first time recalled moments long buried in me. Not moments really, but a feeling. How fresh and wonderful it is to look across the room and meet the eyes of the woman you adore – and who you think may adore you also. There are entire worlds in that moment. Everything pauses. Before you myriad possible futures unfold, including the fantasy hope of living happily ever after with this woman. In that moment it is pure still, and still entirely possible. Nothing has been spoiled. It exists in and by itself. And it fills you entirely, like something wondrous that inflates in your chest. You linger knowing it, knowing the woman across the way is feeling the same. Then the world starts up again. You step forward. You take hold of destiny.

It’s not that I had forgotten that I had ever experienced such things, rather it had slipped between the cracks of my mind. I experienced it then, at school, when it is lent a naïve, innocent quality. Later I am not as innocent, but what I feel in its way remains just that. It’s natural. It springs from a part of you untainted by experience. It takes you by surprise and takes you away.

You live in a spell. Now I recall those occasions, not numerous, but occasional, when after that initial moment when I have spent hours with that person special in my heart. You gaze into their eyes. The words come easy, and with a smile. You feel so gentle, so rich with benevolence. You yearn in a way that makes you close your eyes and allow yourself to be carried away by it, as if by a dream. At the same time, you wonder at it. This is happening. I am here. She loves me. I love her. At some point, it must progress to another stage. You know that. Somewhere ahead of you is reality, a time you must part, a day that must come, a plane of existence that must be returned to. Not yet, you think, not yet, hoping all the time that you can return to this again.

That was always the problematic aspect for me. There were numerous times when that sense was recycled and reproduced for months. But other times when reality revealed the complexity of the situation I was in. More than my fair share I’ve become involved with complex women, or women in complex situations – by that, mostly, meaning with another man in the background. That’s the subject of a post I’ll probably never write. In the end, reality always wins.

For Clay, this fictional character, his reality once this show ends is to endure the knowledge of what might have been, and remembrance of those precious, innocent moments of intimacy now forever in the past – unless, of course, the writers choose a different destiny for him.

The fish John West rejects

For someone who likes it so much there’s a lot of sex I knock back.

I always consider myself open minded to the opportunity, and in theory think it would be unusual for me to spurn perfectly good sex when it’s on offer. Besides anything else, the sun aint always gonna shine so best to make hay while it does. That’s the theory. In reality there’s a consistent pattern of either refusing it outright, or discouraging the possibility. Why, grasshopper?

Sometimes it’s just not right. It doesn’t feel right. Sure you can have it, but should you?

I tend to be a little embarrassed by these occasions, as if I’m letting down some indeterminate side (just as an aside, I’m often amazed at how much sex some people think I’ve had). Truth of it is though is there are times it would be wrong, either because it would be exploiting someone who likes you better than you do them, or because you run the risk of an entanglement you don’t want, or maybe just because they don’t appeal to you. There are other reasons to. There have been perfectly attractive women who annoyed me so much I wanted not a bar of them. Or, maybe it’s just inconvenient – the time isn’t there, or you feel crook, or whatever.

Last night it was for another, though quite common reason.

I don’t do fuck-buddies. I understand why many people are drawn to it, but it’s not for me. It’s a bit to formulaic for my liking. Any sex that has to be scheduled is bad sex in my book. As far as I’m concerned has to be the product of one of three things – love, pure desire, or spontaneous opportunity. Convenience doesn’t cut the mustard.

I’m notorious in some quarters for my 3 root rule, which was adapted from Kundera’s rule of 3’s from The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It may be controversial, but I think it eminently sensible:

“Either you see a woman three times in quick succession and then never again, or you maintain relations over the years but make sure that the rendezvous are at least three weeks apart”

Mine’s a bit simpler than that, and the motivation is probably different: I’m not interested in convenient sex. It has to have a joyous aspect, and I’m very happy to fuck the right woman again and again every day of the week. That’s the right woman, and she’s hard to find. Otherwise, I figure, you have to guard against the routine and joyless.

So basically I’ll never have sex with the same woman more than twice, unless she’s the right woman (or who I figure might be). The first time is fine because, well, it’s the first time. The second time is okay because it was good the first time or because you might be interested and are not sure. The third go is a no-no though because you should know by then. You fuck a third time and you’re in a relationship, and you better be ready for it.

There are clauses to modify the rule – as Tomas quite rightly allows for, time in between makes a difference – but the general rule is true.

I’ve had women turn their noses up at the notion before later coming to me and admitting it’s actually pretty reasonable.

I’m not being unfair or making judgements and there’s nothing misogynistic about it – it’s simply a rule that protects us from something that might otherwise do us mischief.

Last night I was encouraged to an arrangement by which both of us could satisfy our need for intimacy. To be honest, I don’t have a need for intimacy except of the emotional kind. It’s passion I want to feel in bed, but it has to be natural. I’m not interested in an arrangement and once more in my life found myself rejecting the opportunity for some easy sex. I’m stubborn like that.

Body + mind + x = love

Searching for a bookmark for the new book I was reading I scrabbled around in the drawer of the bedside table the other day and found an old business card to mark the place. I stuck it between the pages of the book and thought no more of it. A couple of days later by chance I saw there were marks on the bookmark that at an idle glance looked like crayon. My first thoughts were that my niece at some point had got it. As I examined it though I realised the story was different. It took me a moment to remember. Scribbled on the card was a phone number written in red lipstick. It was the phone number of an leggy but crazy nurse I had an encounter with a few years back. After these years it seemed amazing I should come by that long forgotten card again. Perhaps I should call her?

That was a brief encounter, but over the years I’ve had many girl friends who I would catch up with on rotation. For many years there were about 3-4 of them, and sometimes more, coming in and dropping out. We would go out for drinks or dinner every month or so and catch up with each other’s gossip. Most were women I’d had an episode or two with, which had devolved into friendship, but many were just women in which I found a kindred spirit. It was great fun, and in hindsight I feel very lucky.

Unfortunately those days ended a few years back. Life happens, and in my case a lot happened all at once. I had led an easy life I took for granted, wherein nights out at good bars or fancy restaurants was considered a part of lifestyle, and barely considered an expense. When things changed those nights were no longer possible and the occasions fell away – as did my social life.

There’s a natural attrition too. People move on, move away, end up living in different states or countries. Or they find a steady boyfriend or husband and find their priorities change. That always happens. With one (Fong) a misunderstanding led to a falling out that pride prevented a mending to. Today the only real female friend I have is Donna, though there are others I’m friendly with. I miss those days, but still feel an unexpected pride that I was able to maintain such good friendships with a diverse bunch of women.

Today I’m meeting up with the African for lunch. She was one of those women, but it was disrupted on my part by my deteriorating circumstances, and on hers, it seems, by motherhood. We haven’t set eyes on each other since I left for Malaysia and England a few years back. I’m curious to see her again and to hear her story – there’s much to tell. I look forward to a leisurely meal and hopefully a good bottle of plonk and possibly even a friendship re-ignited.

I realise now in hindsight how much I got out of these encounters. They were fun occasions, but also often very intimate. In me they found someone they could share their thoughts and ask their questions; and in them I found someone I could unbend with. We would flirt still, but beneath it was honest communication about the things held deep inside us. For me it was a substitute for the real thing. I would go out and find sex wherever it was, such as with the nurse. They were brief encounters by and large, but served that purpose. The deeper intimacy was supplied by my regular catch-ups with the women I admired and respected, women intelligent, funny, thoughtful and kind. Why wouldn’t you miss that?

Of course the ideal is to find all of that in the one package – which is why it’s strange to remember that with over half these women we had progressed from a sexual relationship to (largely) celibate friendship. The package had been there, but I declined it. I always did. I was wilfully independent and hated the thought of being possessed, body and mind. And so I split out the elements one from the other, body separate to mind.

There were exceptions, and they’re well recorded here – women I adored to whom I wanted to commit everything. Been some time since that though.

I feel as if I’ve been hibernation these last few years, and having roused myself finally and taking the first tentative steps outside my cave I wonder who I will be now. Have I changed? I know what I feel and want – but does that equate to authentic desire? When push comes to shove will I accept that? I don’t know. I hope so, but there’s a long way to go until I get to that point.

Hot, probably not

About 10 years ago when I was in the middle of one of my exhausting and doomed infatuations I acquired a follower who would read my updates and make comment. I was in the thrall of a woman who had a boyfriend back home in England. I hoped I might be able to change her mind about that, and at different times it seemed almost likely.

My commenter was an unknown woman who was infatuated with a man already spoken for. We were in the same position, just a different gender, and our experiences were seemingly parallel – no surprise, for while it always seems unique to you it’s very much a cliché. In any case we formed a bond through the ups and downs of our experiences.

I never learnt her name, and never discovered how it worked out for her. Obviously it never worked out for me.

I was thinking about her the other day, quietly hoping that she might have had a happy ending to her story. I recalled her because, briefly, I reflected on that very tempestuous time of my life with something like wistful regret. I’d have preferred if at least one of those episodes had turned out right (for me), but I’m glad of the experience.

I’ve experienced different tempests in recent years, and know what I prefer. I experienced a succession of high-risk and difficult relationships with women who were all with others – 3 of them. Needless to say I was very fond of them all, and still am – though differently. It’s sort of typical of me, if not classic, that I would fall for women I was always unlikely to win.

It was an intense time of my life with great highs and desperate lows. I’m someone who doesn’t fall easy, but the other side of that is when I do fall, I fall all the way. There were great moments and occasions of soaring hope. You’re swept along like a fresh convert to a cause you previously scoffed at. Against expectation and temperament you find yourself true believer, both a little bashful and plenty joyous.

None of it worked out, but they were all fine women, and despite the misery that ultimately fell to me each time, I’m very glad for the experience, which is ultimately enriching. I miss it too. That was the moment in my life when something was poised to ‘happen’, and perhaps should have happened – I certainly wish it had. It seems certainly quiet since, but hope my chance will come again.

In reflection I realised just how many women I’ve known over the course of my life. It’s an awful lot. Don’t know what it says about me, but I’ve probably forgotten about 40% of them, and even those I remember the names are often long forgotten. I guess there have been 20-30 notable women in my life, and probably no more than 6-8 really significant.

As it happens I’ve been in contact with a couple of the friendlier ones in the last little while. After Trump’s victory I sent a message to the spy offering my commiserations. As an expat New Yorker she was greatly chastened, and firmly ensconced as an Aussie resident now. We exchanged a few fond text messages and it was nice.

Next week during my week off I’m catching up with the African for a drink. Since I last saw her she’s had a child, though there appears not be a father on the scene. I’ll get the lowdown when I meet her.

I’ve made small and unconvincing forays into the dating world recently. I had one woman the other day say “I hope you don’t mind me being blunt, but you’re very hot.” It’s part of my demeanour that I’m generally unimpressed (though privately chuffed) by such comments. I told her I didn’t mind her being blunt at all.

Which reminds me of Cup Day. I called Donna after the big race, and a friend of hers there grabbed phone upon hearing it was me. He’s a lovely guy, but very camp, and wanted to tell me that I had a natural skill with the horses that I should be doing something about. He rabbited on a bit longer, then to sign off told me that he thought I looked ‘hot’ at Donna’s birthday party way back in March. I didn’t know how to respond to that, and on this occasion opted not to. Thankfully Donna came on the line then laughing, having overheard the comment.

For the record I’m looking the best I have in years (generally – ironically much better than I did 10 years ago), but I’m by no means hot. Nice to be told though, all the same.

Call me…


I don’t think I’ve ever told this story before.

Many years ago I worked in West Melbourne. There was a vacant property next to our building which was used as a parking lot. Among the cars parked there everyday was a red VW Beetle convertible. It was shiny and cute, and the driver wasn’t bad either.

She was tall and blonde and very beautiful. She was about my age, and I would see her occasionally from the window of our building when she parked or left to go home. I was intrigued and, naturally, drawn to her.

Back then I was in my prime. I was tall too, and blonde as she was, good-looking, and had wit besides. I figured we made a good match.

One day I came up with a scheme. I didn’t know who she was or where she worked, but I knew I wanted to meet her. On impulse I wrote a note to her. It was short and teasing, and left much to the imagination.

That was my theory then and now. Be direct. Keep it brief. And leave them wondering. In other words, leave them wanting more.

I can’t remember what I wrote exactly, but it wouldn’t have been more than a sentence or two. I don’t know who you are, but I’m keen to find out. Give me a call. Daniel.

It would have been something like that – Daniel being my pseudonym for the occasion.

I almost chickened out, but by now the office had got wind of what I was thinking and found themselves excited by it. In their minds it was pretty typical H, and they were very happy to live vicariously by my feats. And so while I dithered one of my colleagues, an older man, Rick, from Geelong, volunteered to take to down for me and stick it under her windscreen wiper. I couldn’t refuse that.

The next day I got a call, but when I answered the caller hung up. The receptionist had told me it was a woman calling. About 5 minutes later a fax came through – what you see above.

For reasons I can’t understand I never called her – instead I took the bolder route of going over to her office and asking for her.

It’s funny, I don’t remember any of that meeting, and ultimately nothing came of it – I think we both got cold feet simultaneously.

I’ve just come across this again going through my stuff, a keepsake. Hard to believe it’s so long ago, and so much happened since. I wonder she is and what’s she’s doing. I wish now I’d ventured more, but not to be.

If you’re reading this now Yolanda, I owe you a drink, and happy to oblige. Better late than never. Call me…

Other roads

I’m Facebook friends with maybe half a dozen women I’ve had something to do with in the past. No biggie, except lately it’s hit home a little.

One is a woman I had a passionate affair with about 20 years ago. She was unhappily married at the time, and fell for me a Christmas party. That first night was intense, later sitting in Fitzroy gardens after midnight while she told me her story, before making out. She was getting out of her marriage and was intent on getting me. She was the first to vow that she would – and I told her she was wrong.

We had some great times as I reflect. Tumultuous sex and inappropriate moments shared with gusto. She was my date to my stepsister’s wedding. She was a great and attractive woman, but I could never commit to her and so she drifted away.

Now I see her on Facebook happily married and with 2 great things and while I have no regrets, wonder a little at what could have been.

There’s another who committed herself to getting a ring on it. I knew that wasn’t going to happen either. She’s married now, and had her first kid about 18 months ago.

Then a few weeks ago I saw a post from a woman I flirted with new years eve 2 years ago. She was funny and bright and attached herself to me for the early part of the night, before I slipped away to flirt with others. Now she has a baby too.

It’s human nature to wonder at the choices you’ve made in life. Whenever faced with the fork in the road I’ve always chosen the fork that maintained my sense of independence. I would argue that each time it was a legitimate choice – I did not feel as they did, and did not feel what I thought I should. But how life might have been different! And – let’s be blunt – probably better.

Now, after the tribulations I’ve been through, I’m trying to get back to some of that, but I’m not the same attractive proposition I was then. My stocks have fallen.

I had this reinforced to me during the week. Given what I’ve gone through I’m up front with my situation. I don’t want anyone to get into anything without knowing the truth, ugly as it is. The other week I met with someone who was interested, but intrigued. What where my dark secrets? And so I took a deep breath and told her, though very much the condensed version. At the end of it she agreed, my, that’s a lot – then basically told me, thanks but no thanks. It was too much for her, and fair enough.

I don’t take it personally, but you feel it at a metaphysical level. It’s a reminder of how actually shit my circumstances have been.